Saturday, November 13, 2010

Matchday: Stoke vs Liverpool

Sotirios Kyrgiakos is likely to return for the visit to Stoke though according to Roy Hodgson the centre-back is still feeling after effects from the bout of tonsillitis which forced him out of matches with Chelsea and Wigan Athletic. Though their respective complaints have progressed the Liverpool manager says neither Joe Cole or Glen Johnson are in contention. Martin Kelly would probably return to the bench if Johnson were to return. Brad Jones is set to provide cover for Pepe Reina and be named as a substitute in place of Martin Hansen. Fabio Aurelio will join the Australian stopper as a replacement for his first involvement with the squad since late October. The Brazilian would make his first Premier League outing of the campaign if introduced. A late call will be made on Raul Meireles who left the field early during the week through illness. Daniel Agger remains a long term absentee. Stoke will welcome Ryan Shawcross back after the influential defender served a one-match suspension. Danny Higginbotham is expected to make way. Other than that change, plus the possible replacement of striker Ricardo Fuller with Tuncay, Tony Pulis is unlikely to alter the side which beat Birmingham City by the odd goal in five last Tuesday. Such a decision would see Jermaine Pennant face Liverpool for the first time since leaving Anfield. Mamady Sidibe has an Achilles tendon injury which may see him miss the entire campaign. The Reds may be unbeaten in their last four league matches but both sides have had testing seasons so far. The Potters can lay claim to some poor fortune and bad refereeing - with the exception of their midweek winner which appeared to include a handball in the build-up. Meanwhile, Liverpool have often been the architects of their own adversity. Though the Reds have also suffered poor decisions these have been isolated and there was a notable benefit from the officials in the opening goal at Anfield against Sunderland. The sides have met 120 times to date with Liverpool winning 61 games and drawing 33. 26 defeats have been suffered - 23 at Stoke - and just 14 victories have come in the Potteries. Three visits have been made to the Britannia Stadium. Liverpool debuting with an 8-0 win in the Worthington Cup which included a Robbie Fowler hat-trick during late November 2000. Since Stoke regained top flight status two seasons ago both Premier League matches have ended in draws. Stoke City from: Begovic, Huth, Faye, Shawcross, Collins, Pennant, Whitehead, Delap, Etherington, Jones, Tuncay, Fuller, Walters, Sorensen, Gudjohnsen, Wilkinson, Higginbotham, Whelan, Wilson Liverpool from: Reina, Kelly, Carragher, Skrtel, Konchesky, Poulsen, Gerrard, Lucas, Maxi, Kuyt, Torres, Jones, Jovanovic, Ngog, Spearing, Kelly, Shelvey, Eccleston, Meireles Referee: Martin Halsey Kick-off is at 5.30pm

Hicks Weaves Magic On Canadian PM

The former Prime Minister of Canada has claimed that former Liverpool owner Tom Hicks was subjected to a "character assassination" during last month's takeover. New England Sports Ventures (NESV) won the right to replace the Texan and business partner George Gillett at the Anfield helm but Brian Mulroney has accused the British media and business community of attempting to discredit Hicks in "an environment akin to a witch-hunt". Former chairman Martin Broughton along with commercial director Ian Ayre and then managing director Christian Purslow fought tirelessly in the High Court to see sanctions brought by Hicks and Gillett against NESV's takeover successfully lifted. But Mulroney, writing in yesterday's edition of The Times, claims that the current British Airways chief "took [Hicks's] asset against his will and devalued the club in a fire sale". Mulroney, who was Prime Minister of Canada between 1984 and 1993, is considered a friend of Hicks and branded the treatment of him as "truly disturbing". He claims that former owners Hicks and Gillett "dramatically increased the value of the club through considerable investment" and hired "a World Class manager" in Roy Hodgson as part of their increased spending on transfers and first- team personnel. After being defeated in London's High Court, Hicks is planning to take his case back to the courtroom prompting Mulroney's final parting shot, which asks: "how such a travesty of justice could have occurred in England, the birthplace of fundamental justice".

Hodgson Fires Warning To Johnson

Roy Hodgson has expressed frustration at Glen Johnson's form this term warning he should not count on remaining first choice for either club or country. Injury has restricted the right back to just one outing in the past seven club games and allowed those hungry for a run in the first team their chance. Johnson is expected to remain a key man in Fabio Capello's squad and could be picked for England's upcoming friendly with France. That may not be so straightforward domestically. Though Jamie Carragher has covered on the flank the 26- year-old has Martin Kelly snapping at his heels within the Liverpool squad. Without an improvement Hodgson warns that the man acquired from Portsmouth in the summer of 2009 could stay on the fringes at Anfield. "Johnson's the England right back, and if he plays like that, one would expect him to come back in," he said. "But then he'd have to play like the England right-back and up to now, to be quite frank, he's not performed - very often at least - to the level I'd expect of him. "You would have to ask him the question 'do you think you're playing at top form and are you playing like the best right-back in the country for your club?' "If he says yes, obviously we will have to agree to differ. And if he says no, then you'd have to ask the question why not?"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Liverpool Ready To Fight Chelsea For Armin Bacinovic

Liverpool are reportedly battling Chelsea to sign Palermo midfielder Armin Bacinovic. The 21-year-old Slovenian international has been earning rave reviews for his performances in Serie 'A' after joining in the summer, and a host of top European clubs are thought to have taken interest in the player. Reds boss Roy Hodgson is one of those reportedly monitoring the player, with talkSPORT claiming that Liverpool are 'locked in battle' with Chelsea for the player's signature. Bacinovic began his career at homeland club Maribor, making his debut in the Intertoto Cup as a teenager and staring in the Slovenian PrvaLiga for seasons to follow. The Rosanero signed the player in August this year after the sides clashed in the Europa League, and the defensive midfielder has made an instant impact with a couple of goals alongside combative performances. New Liverpool owners NESV have promised Hodgson money to spend in the transfer window, with a £35 million transfer war chest thought to be available at Anfield. 'Five or six' players are thought to have been targeted on Merseyside, with Hodgson linked with moves for Urbe Emanuelson, Juan Mata and Jonathan Reis all touted as potential Liverpool moves. A £12 million valuation has been placed on the player's head, and although AC Milan have been linked with the player, a Premier League move is thought to be the player's likely destination. Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti will be monitoring the situation as the Stamford Bridge outfit look to strengthen further, but Liverpool are desperate to make signings and could make the first move for the player.

Liverpool Legend Dalglish Joins Twitter

LIVERPOOL FC icon Kenny Dalglish has joined the massed ranks of Reds followers on Twitter. The Anfield legend's son Paul @ pauldalglish broke the news on the micro-blogging site yesterday, confirming that @ KennethDalglish was in fact the man himself and not an impersonator. Kenny introduced himself to his followers - whose numbers grew in incredible numbers, with over 17,000 already keeping track of his updates less than 24 hours after he joined - in his own inimitable style with a gentle dig at old striking partner Ian Rush before lamenting the Reds' failure to beat Wigan last night while admitting he did enjoy the Lancashire side's hospitality. Twitter has grown massively in popularity over recent months with many in the public eye clearly feeling it is an effective of managing their own publicity and LFC are already well represented. New club owner John W Henry @john_w_henry is a regular Tweeter as his wife Linda Pizzuti @linda_pizzuti, who recently announced via the social media site how much she enjoyed her first experience of Anfield . Current squad members Lucas Leiva @LucasLeiva87, Ryan Babel @ryanbabel, Brad Jones @Brad_ Jones1, and Emiliano Insua @ EmilianoInsua (currently on loan at Galatasaray) are also fairly regular contributors while ex- Reds Xabi Alonso @xabialonso and Alvaro Arbeloa @aarbeloa17 update with their progress at Real Madrid.

Jovanovic Shrugs Off Liverpool Exit Rumours

Milan Jovanovic insists he has no intention of leaving Liverpool despite his failure to build on his exploits with Standard Liege. Liverpool won the race to sign the Serbian hitman, who scored the only goal in his country's historic win over Germany in the World Cup this summer, but he has yet to show the form which brought him to the attention of several top clubs, including the Reds and AC Milan. A return to the Belgian league has been mooted with Anderlecht understood to be willing to offer the 29-year-old attacker a swift exit from Anfield and although flattered by the interest, Jovanovic has refused to throw in the towel after just four months in England. He said: "Since I moved to England I've done everything regarding my job the way the coach wants from me. "I was really focused on not making many tactical mistakes. I've not done things my way. I didn't do things my way, I didn't take risks with my moves and actions. "I'm just thinking about Liverpool. I'll stay here because I'm no quitter or a person who doesn't fight. "I know, that Anderlecht rate me very highly and I'm proud about that. "Anderlecht are the biggest club in Belgium and I respect them, but I have a contract with Liverpool and I'll stay."

Hodgson Relying On Stevie-Torres To Lift Reds

Liverpool will have to rely on Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard to restore success to the club, concedes manager Roy Hodgson. Anfield's often dynamic duo combined to open the scoring in last night's 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic and have been instrumental in all bar one of the Reds' league goals this season, whether as scorers or creators, but could see the burden placed upon them intensifying. Torres' recent return to form in addition to his reunion with sparring partner Gerrard has seen Liverpool unbeaten in their past five Barclays Premier League games and Hodgson believes that the duo will be instrumental in reviving the club's fortunes. He said: "It was an excellent goal and the move and the counter-attack and the combination play once again between Torres and Gerrard which got the latter in for his shot off the underside of the crossbar was another good example. "But that is what you expect from players of their ability. Everyone knows they are international stars of the Premier League. "If we are going to do well this season we need those two firing on all cylinders, we need Torres' goals and Gerrard's manipulation and control of the midfield. "We only saw it in glimpses against Wigan whereas against Chelsea and in our previous victories against Napoli, Blackburn and Bolton it was present in much larger doses. "But it was tough going to Wigan. We are on a good run but after four straight victories you know it is going to be hard to get the fifth. "I suppose I have to be satisfied in some ways we are still unbeaten and we are one more point towards the total we want to achieve."

Kerzhakov Reveals Liverpool Approach

Aleksandr Kerzhakov claims he has been approached by Liverpool over a potential January switch. The Russia international has hit 12 goals in 26 appearances for Zenit St Petersburg this season and has alleged that his agent was contacted by representatives from Anfield over a move in the upcoming winter transfer window. But former Sevilla striker Kerzhakov, 27, insists that he is currently happy to remain with Zenit, who he rejoined this year after a four-year absence from the Petrovsky Stadium. He said: "The talk about Liverpool is not baseless. The British club came to my agent with a proposal but I did not give an answer. "I have other things to think about and in all respects I am happy in Russia. My team is in first place in the national championship and I have always said that I wanted to play for Zenit. "In the case of Liverpool I will take no initiative, but I can count the fingers on one hand for the amount of clubs I could theoretically go to. "This is because Zenit is playing beautiful, modern football and the club is growing rapidly. And I am here, at home."

Kelly Thrilled With Chelsea Game Performance

Liverpool defender Martin Kelly enjoyed his test against Chelsea. The 20-year-old found himself up against Ashley Cole and Florent Malouda on Sunday - arguably the most potent left- sided combination in the Barclays Premier League - and he admits he enjoyed the challenge. "I enjoyed playing against Malouda and that was my main focus to keep him quiet," he told "It was a good test for a young lad like me playing against him and Ashley Cole but I couldn't have done it without the rest of the lads who helped me out a lot. "Raul Meireles played just in front of me and he was important. He is a quality player. He listens all the time and I thought we worked well together. "The atmosphere was brilliant. I remember being in the stand watching us play in the Champions League and enjoying the atmosphere but playing against Chelsea felt even better."

Hodgson Delighted With Kelly Performance

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is delighted with the progress this season of young defender Martin Kelly. Hodgson handed the 20-year- old his first start in the Barclays Premier League against Chelsea and the boss admitted he was delighted with his display. Hodgson told "He didn't let me down and he did very well in the game. "He has done okay also in the games he has played in the Europa League and we think he is a player with a future. "We believe he has got a lot of work to do to become as good as player as some of our other regulars in the back four, but he's certainly got a lot of good qualities. "I think it was very good for him to be thrown in so late in the day and to stand up and be counted when it mattered most."

Valentin In Liverpool Sights

Swiss youngster Valentin Stocker is being tracked by Liverpool. Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson - who managed the Switzerland national team - is keen to use his contacts in Swiss football to push through a deal for the 21-year- old FC Basel midfielder. A fleet-footed attacking midfielder with an eye for goal, Valentin would certainly fit with the ethos of new Liverpool owners NESV in their quest to invest in young talent to develop a squad for the future at Anfield.

Liverpool Tracking PSV Winger Jonathan Reis

Liverpool are tracking PSV Eindhoven striker Jonathan Reis. The Brazilian forward joined PSV from the Atletico Madrid academy in 2007, staring for the reserves side before a serious injury thwarted his Eredivisie career before it had even began. Briefly loaned out to Tupi in his homeland, Reiss appeared set for a Phillips Stadium exit before the arrival of Fred Rutten. Promoted to the first team, Reis would then have his contract terminated in January 2010 after failing a drugs test. He made his return six months later with a new contract at the club, and has been rejuvenated ever since. The striker scored a hat-trick in the 10-0 thrashing of Feyenoord, and has seven goals in four league games since penning the new three-year deal. His form has triggered interest from across Europe, with Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson sending scouts to watch the player in the 2-1 weekend win against Utrecht.

Poulsen Rues Bad Form

Christian Poulsen believes he is beginning to adapt to the pace of the Barclays Premier League and has set his sights on making a key contribution to Liverpool's bid to break back into the top four. The Danish midfielder appeared as a late substitute as the Reds saw their winning run come to an end with a 1-1 draw at Wigan. He admits the result wasn't what Roy Hodgson's men would have hoped for, but remains optimistic their hard work on the training ground will reap its rewards in the months ahead. "It's been a tough start for us but we are improving and want to get in the top four as quickly as possible," said Poulsen. "I thought we started the game well and it looked like we were going to win it. But Wigan were strong in the second half and the early goal helped them. "After a brilliant win over Chelsea it was frustrating for us but it's a tough Premier League this season with teams taking points off one another. Every team can beat each other - there is no easy game and Wigan showed that against us." He added: "It was good for me to play the last 20-25 minutes and I wanted to show my best for the team. "There have been many changes at Liverpool and I have come in this season as a new player. We have a new manager and new owners. I am trying to learn as quickly as possible to adapt to the league. The manager has shown a lot of faith in me. "I know I've got a lot of work to do and I will work hard every day in training at Melwood so I can help this team. "Liverpool is a great club and I feel really proud to be here. I feel I can improve and give a lot more."

Gerrard Pledges To Get Liverpool Back Where It Belongs

Steven Gerrard today pledged to get Liverpool back to winning ways in Stoke on Saturday after shouldering some of the responsibility for our 1-1 at the DW Stadium. The ever-honest skipper knows he had a fantastic opportunity to clinch all three points late in the game when he hit the crossbar. And Gerrard also held his hands up to a misplaced one-two with Paul Konchesky just seconds before Hugo Rodallega's equaliser. But the 30-year-old - who assisted Fernando Torres's opening goal with a delightful ball through the Wigan defence - insists he and his teammates can take some positives from yet another game without defeat. "I tried to play a one-two that, if it had come off, could have been a good move," Gerrard explained. "You don't expect it to lead to a goal but, when it does, you have to take responsibility. "Then when I went through on goal, I maybe struck my shot too well but I should have scored - I expected to. As we haven't taken maximum points, maybe people should point a finger at me. "Besides those things, I'm happy with my form. After a fantastic win over Chelsea and having gone 1-0 up, of course we understand why people will be slightly disappointed." Gerrard believes the memorable victory over Carlo Ancelotti's team took a lot out of Liverpool - and matters were not helped by the fact Wigan had an extra day's preparation following their defeat to Blackburn on Saturday.

Injury Update: Miereles Simply Sick

Roy Hodgson has explained his decision to swap Raul Meireles with Jonjo Shelvey, declaring that the Portuguese international was sick. Hodgson made some odd substitutions tonight, although Meireles for Shelvey wasn't the most puzzling (Poulsen on for Kuyt when we were drawing 1-1!), and after the game the Liverpool boss confirmed: "He was sick. I don't know how long it will take for him to recover. He felt ill just before the game in the warm up. He wanted to play and got through the first half but at half-time he was sick again, so there was no option." Liverpool fans are still waiting to hear why Poulsen was let near the stadium, never mind brought on for Kuyt!

Lack Of Squad Depth Worrying Hodgson

Roy Hodgson pointed to Liverpool's "stretched" squad as the reason behind his side's 1-1 draw against Wigan. Liverpool struggled to a point after fours wins on the trot. "It was nothing like the performances we've shown in recent weeks and that might be because this was a game too far," said the Liverpool manager. "Our recent games have put a lot of demands on a fairly small squad with quite a few senior players injured," added Hodgson, whose side lie ninth. With Daniel Agger, Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Glen Johnson injured, Hodgson started with 20-year-old right-back Martin Kelly, while fellow youngsters Jonjo Shelvey and Nathan Eccleston came on as substitutes. Martinez thrilled with Latics display Fernando Torres had put Liverpool ahead early in the first half but Wigan grabbed a deserved second-half equaliser when Hugo Rodallega powered in a shot. "At the moment, we've got a lot of work to do if we are going to be the big club that we want to be and everyone wants us to be," said Hodgson. "I would be lying to our supporters if I said there will not be more games like this where we have to scrap and fight and work hard for our points. "I thought we started well and finished well but I thought there was a long period in between when we were nowhere near as good as we can be. "If you talk about the clear goal chances, perhaps, we could argue we fully deserve what we got but if you think about the actual play itself then we were fortunate to come away with a point."

Gritty Wigan Stop Reds Wagon

Liverpool's victorious run in the Premier League came to an end as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium on Wednesday night. After their impressive win over defending champions Chelsea last Sunday, hopes were high for Roy 's team and the match seemed to be headed the predictable way when Fernando Torres gave the visitors the lead as early as the 7th minute of the match. The Spanish striker scored his fifth goal of the season after latching on to an excellent through pass from Steven Gerrard and slotting it home comfortably past the Latics custodian. However, Liverpool went into their shell after scoring the opener as the midfield kept sitting deep and tried to release the strikers with counter- attacking moves. That allowed the Wigan players more space and time and players like Charles N'Zogbia began to gradually get into the game. Wigan were finally rewarded for their sustained pressure as Hugo Rodallega brought the hosts level in the 52nd minute. A marvellous cross from Stam on the right could only be parried by the Liverpool goalkeeper and the ball fell to Rodallega who made no mistake with his shot. Reina had a busy night as he had to make quite a few saves to keep Liverpool in the game. Captain Steven Gerrard almost got a winner for the visitors in the 79th minute after running on to a great pass from Maxi Rodriguez but his shot rebounded off the woodwork. Reina was called into action once again towards the end as he denied N 'Zogbia a late winner. Although the game stretched out in the latter stages, both teams failed to capitalise on their chances and the match ended a 1-1 draw with the hosts probably shading it on performance. Liverpool remain ninth in the table with 16 points from 12 matches. They face Stoke City in their next league match and the fans will be hoping that Roy Hodgson manages to adopt a more attacking approach against the 'weaker' teams. His substitutions tonight certainly raised a few eyebrows, especially when he brought on Christian Poulsen in place of Dirk Kuyt with twenty odd minutes to go given the fact that both Milan Jovanovic and David Ngog were available on the bench. Maybe, the Liverpool manager needs to be more positive in the future because dropping points against teams like Wigan is a strict no-no at clubs vying for a Champions League spot.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Matchday: Wigan Vs Liverpool

Liverpool FC will be looking to continue their resurgence under their new owners as they travel to the DW Stadium on Wednesday night for their mid- week Premier League fixture against Wigan Athletic. After three consecutive victories in the league, the last one coming against defending champions Chelsea, Liverpool have made their way back to the top half of the table and lie only five points adrift of Manchester City in the much-coveted fourth position. Wigan, on the other hand, have taken only one point from their last three matches, a 1-1 draw at home against Bolton, and presently lie in the relegation zone. On paper, it should be an easy game for Liverpool but given the uncanny habit that Liverpool have of dropping points against weaker oppositions, Roy Hodgson's men must ensure that their dream run does not end against a team battling relegation. Injuries to defenders have been a thorn in Roy 's side in recent times but Martin Kelly's impressive performance at right back against Chelsea means that although Glen Johnson may be in contention for a return to the first team, there is no need to hurry him into it and risk a longer absence. Sotirios Kyrgiakos is still out with tonsillitis and Joe Cole will also miss the game after failing to recover from his hamstring injury. Fabio Aurelio and Ryan Babel are reportedly fit but Roy may be reluctant to throw them into the mix immediately. The other big name missing is of course Daniel Agger who is out for quite some time. Martin Hansen will continue to be Pepe Reina 's deputy as Brad Jones is sidelined with a shoulder injury. Roberto Martinez also has selection problems of his own. Steve Gohouri is suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card against Blackburn Rovers in the last game and Emmerson Boyce is probably not fit for a return yet. So, the full-back position might pose a problem for Martinez. Also, midfielder James McCarthy is still out recovering from an ankle operation. Wigan will be looking to take heart from the corresponding result last season as Rodallega's goal gave the Latics all three points. However, it is the only encounter that has gone their way with the results reading 9-2-1 in Liverpool 's favour. Given the way the Liverpool juggernaut is rolling at the moment, come Wednesday night, the match might seem much longer than only ninety minutes to Roberto Martinez and his men. Anything other than a comprehensive Liverpool win would be a surprise indeed.

Liverpool Monitoring Dutch Star Dzsudzsak

Sources in Holland have suggested that Liverpool are interested in PSV Eindhoven's Hungarian winger Balazs Dzsudzsak. Apparently the Reds had scouts in the stands, along with Tottenham Hotspur, for the match between PSV and FC Utrecht at the weekend and the Dutch press have reported that both Liverpool and Spurs were scouting 23 year old Dzsudzsak. The Hungarian has been in impressive form in the last few seasons, finishing last season 's campaign with 14 goals as a left winger. He has already scored 7 goals this season with five coming in just five European games. Dzsudzsak has been a long term target for Arsenal, and with Liverpool lacking any real width on the left hand side, the Hungarian could be an interesting target.

Hodgson: I Believe In Cole

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is adamant Joe Cole will come good. The former Chelsea star snubbed offers from the likes of Tottenham and Manchester United to join Liverpool as a free agent after the World Cup, but he has struggled to impress. But Hodgson said: "Joe Cole is a magnificent professional and another one who would have wished for a better start to his Liverpool career. "Joe really wanted to come here. He thought hard and long before choosing Liverpool - he had other options and could have taken an easier option and stayed in London. "But he moved to the north west to a top club - a difficult club to impress at - because he really wanted to do it, and I think he will. Maybe he will just need that little bit of time. "I certainly haven't lost faith in him and I can only hope the fans have not lost faith in him and will give him plenty more chances."

Hodgson Roars To Take Reds Into Top 4

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson believes his side are more than capable of securing a top-four finish this season and their chances of qualifying for the Champions League should not be written off. The Reds head into Wednesday night's game at Wigan looking for a fourth successive Barclays Premier League victory, with confidence soaring after the 2-0 win over leaders Chelsea on Sunday. They are only five points off fourth place, however, unlike predecessor Rafael Benitez, Hodgson will not be "guaranteeing" a top-four berth. "I don't wish to play down our chances but I think it is unfair to ask coaches like myself, who have had a bad start to the season and fallen way behind, whether they will be in the top four," he said. ""It is all to play for at the moment and I certainly wouldn't write us off." He added: "On the other hand, being five points adrift is clearly not where people want to be." "My answer will only set me up for ridicule later on. I would like to really discuss our top-four potential when we can really see whether it is a truly viable proposition or not. "I'll keep my powder dry and you can happily question me with six games to go and I'll give you the intelligent answer. Although he is reluctant to say it outright, Hodgson believes his team have turned a corner after a disappointing start saw them take just six points from their first eight matches and drop into the bottom three. He knows this is a crucial period to regain lost ground, but is acutely aware the winning run could end as quickly as it began. "Everyone is working hard to make sure we try to become a better team, not just a group of talented individuals, because in this league you need that," said the 63-year-old. "The mindset has always been there. We had a bad start and things weren't going our way and we were a little bit unlucky in one or two games. "We have always had the feeling if we can get our players fit and we can get our best players out there we are capable of giving teams a very good game."

Rafa Targets Daniel Agger Re-union At Inter

Inter Milan are considering a move for Daniel Agger in January as a replacement for the injured Walter Samuel. Scans indicate that the Argentina defender will be sidelined for the rest of the season after suffering severe ligament damage during Saturday's 1-1 draw with Brescia, prompting Rafael Benitez to look at returning to his former club in a bid to capture Denmark international Agger. But the 25-year-old's chances of a move to the San Siro have been dealt a cruel blow after it emerged that he was a long- term injury concern, with his expected return date at Anfield on hold indefinitely after suffering a calf injury, which has been assessed by two specialists. Benitez has refused to name his potential successors to Samuel but has hinted that he in the market for a defender, leading to increasing speculation that he will try to re-sign Agger after paying £5.8million to take him from Brondby to Anfield in January 2006. He said: ''Since we've lost such an important player as Samuel, we will have to arrange the roster in January.''

Liverpool Begin Search For Purslow Replacement

New England Sports Ventures (NESV) have appointed headhunters Spencer Stuart to assist them in their search for Liverpool's new chief executive. Christian Purslow stepped down as the club's managing director last month following the takeover by John Henry's consortium despite remaining at Anfield in an advisory role, prompting a search for his successor. Several names have been mooted as Purslow's potential replacement, including ex- Football Association chief and Liverpool fan Brian Barwick as well as former Arsenal vice chairman David Dein Spencer Stuart were responsible for recommending Ivan Gazdis to the North Londoners to become their chief executive as well as recruiting Richard Scudamore in the same role within the Premier League's hierarchy. NESV principal owner John Henry and newly-appointed chairman Tom Werner will oversee the process and hope to appoint a successor in the early 2011.

Hodgson Not Bothered By Reina Comments

Roy Hodgson does not believe that comments about Pepe Reina's Liverpool future are an immediate cause for concern. Reina has said that he will remain at Anfield "until the end of the season" at least, which has prompted concerns over his long-term future amidst fears that he may move to Premier League rivals Arsenal, who are desperately seeking a first- choice goalkeeper. But Hodgson, speaking at Melwood earlier, insisted that he sees no reason to discuss Reina's future at this moment in time and could not speak highly enough of the Spaniard's abilities. He said: "As far as I'm concerned, we're very happy to have Pepe Reina and I hope he'll stay a lot longer than that. "But if, at the end of the season, he doesn't want to play for Liverpool any more then we'll have to deal with that situation when we come to it. "I don't understand why, seven or eight months from that day, I'm constantly being asked to give my opinion on it. "My opinion is he's an excellent goalkeeper and I hope he plays for Liverpool for years to come. If he doesn't want to play for Liverpool for years to come then we'll deal with the situation when it occurs. "For me, Pepe Reina is one of the most committed players I have at the club. He's one that I never have any doubts about his desire to get on the field, do his best and win the game for the club - that's the most important thing. "I really don't understand why it should be necessary for me or him to discuss a year ahead."

Hodgson: Lucas Sets The Standard For New Signings

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson has urged his new signings to emulate Lucas Leiva's bouncebackability. The Reds midfielder scooped high praise from his boss after his man of the match display in the 2-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday. Lucas has long been castigated during his time in England, with the combative Brazilian receiving unfair comparisons to former members of the Liverpool engine room Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano. But Hodgson insists the 23-year- old is a key component of his first-team and reckons the former Gremio performer's resurgence could inspire some of Liverpool's new recruits to up their own performances. "Lucas is a young player and I have to keep being reminded he is not that old and does not have that much experience," said the Reds boss. "People clearly marked my card as regards to many players and when I came I knew there was a prejudice against him. "I have got to say I don't see what people really found to criticise in him. "I can only judge as I find and I find him very hard working, a very diligent player who works hard on his understanding of the game and team performances." Prejudice Hodgson has backed his summer signings to come good in the same way Lucas has emerged as a key performer this season. The former Fulham chief brought nine players to Anfield during the transfer window and Christian Poulsen has so far earned the flop tag after being ironically jeered when he was substituted during Liverpool's last Europa League tie. Hodgson admits Poulsen has struggled to adapt to the Premier League since moving from Juventus but he expects the 30-year-old Dane to play a key role in the club's campaign this season. The Liverpool boss added: "Christian Poulsen, who has had a bad start to the season, is to some extent also a victim of prejudice at the moment. "I am convinced in both of these players we have really useful players who will serve us to great effect for the rest of the season. "Maybe Christian will have to go through a bit of what Lucas went through but I know the players have the quality we are looking for and I know they are going to help us win matches." Marquee signing Joe Cole has also yet to find his true form for the Merseysiders, but fellow addition Raul Meireles caught the eye at the weekend and Hodgson was quick to praise the Portuguese midfielder. He said: "Raul is a good footballer and was very good in setting up the second goal for Fernando Torres against Chelsea and I think we will get a lot of use out of him. "I am quite happy players like him don't necessarily get put totally under the microscope from the day they arrive because even coming from a top team like Porto it takes time to settle. "Every player who comes here has to go through that adaptation process."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Reds Youngster Wilson Set For Scotland Call

Liverpool defender Danny Wilson will be given his first call-up to the Scotland squad when it is named on Thursday. The 18-year-old has only made one appearance for the Reds since his £2m summer transfer from Rangers - in a shock Carling Cup loss to Northampton. But Scotland coach Craig Levein will include Wilson in his squad for the friendly against the Faroe Islands on 16 November at Pittodrie. Aston Villa midfielder Barry Bannan is also certain to be in the party. Levein hinted at a call-up for 20- year-old Bannan earlier this month as he looks to experiment in Scotland's only international ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifier against the Czech Republic at Hampden next September. Bannan has broken into the first team with Aston Villa this term Bannan had been a regular with Scotland Under-21s and has broken into the Villa first team this season, making seven appearances. Wilson has only played for the Under-21s on five occasions but is now in line for a step up to the seniors after he and Bannan were absent from Billy Stark's squad for their friendly with Northern Ireland on 17 November. The Livingston-born defender broke into the Rangers team in October 2009 and nine days later, against Unirea Urziceni, became the youngest player from Scotland to play in the Champions League. Wilson helped Rangers retain the Scottish title and win the Co- operative Insurance Cup, leading to him lifting national young player of the year awards. However, he rejected the offer of a new contract at Ibrox and moved to Anfield in the summer in a deal that could rise to £5m depending on appearances. So far, he has been restricted to one outing despite Liverpool's difficult start to the season under new manager Roy Hodgson. Wilson made an inauspicious beginning to his own Reds career as they lost on penalties in September to League Two side Northampton after a 2-2 draw and he was an unused substitute in last week's Europa League victory over Napoli. Scotland will host the Faroes looking to build on an acclaimed performance despite going down 3-2 to world champions Spain at Hampden in their Euro 2012 qualifier in October. The Faroes will themselves arrive in Aberdeen on the back of a creditable 1-1 draw at home to an in-form Northern Ireland.

Liverpool Defender Kelly In Contract Talks

Liverpool are expected to offer young defender Martin Kelly a three-year contract extension. The 20-year old made his first league start in the 2-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday, impressing with his performance at right back. It is believed the Reds want to shore up his future after he was able to restrict the impact of players like Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda, indicating he has what it takes at the top level despite making just two first team appearances.

St. Etienne Warn Liverpool Over Payet

French club Saint-Etienne have told Liverpool not to bother with their pursuit for promising attacker Dimitri Payet. The 23-year old Frenchman has netted eight goals in 12 league appearances this term and has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool following Saint- Etienne's former sporting director Damien Comolli arriving at Anfield as Director of Football Strategy earlier this month. But Les Verts co-president Roland Romeyer said that Liverpool had no chance of luring Payet to England just yet. "We have built a roster for the season," Romeyer told France Football. "There will be no departures during the winter transfer window. "Should there be any movement, it would be the other way. Depending on injuries, for example, we could sign a player. But this is only a theory. "

Reina May Leave Anfield In Summer

The Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina has indicated that he will consider leaving the club at the end of the season if he is not satisfied with their progress. The Spaniard has ruled out asking for a move in January but said he wants to feel certain that the team will challenge for major honours under the club's new owners, New England Sports Ventures. "I signed a six-year deal seven months ago and I'm happy at the club but every footballer wants to be competing for trophies and winning things," Reina was quoted by the Daily Mail. "I will stay at Liverpool until the end of the season. I know there are rumours of me leaving but I want to make it clear that I have no intention of going back to Spain." Reina has won only one major trophy, the 2006 FA Cup, since he joined from Villarreal five years ago, although he did play in the 2007 Champions League final defeat by Milan. He spoke glowingly of the club's former manager Rafael Benítez, who signed him. Benítez left last summer to take over at Internazionale and was succeeded by Roy Hodgson, who has overcome a difficult start at Anfield to record four straight wins, including Sunday's over the Premier League leaders and champions, Chelsea. "Rafael Benítez was an essential person for this club and the reason I came to Liverpool," Reina said. The goalkeeper recently held talks with Liverpool's new owner, John W Henry, as did the striker Fernando Torres, another player who has been linked with a possible move if the club's fortunes do not continue to pick up. Henry said he had been "heartened by the response" of Reina and Torres and "the intelligence of these players". The American described himself as "upset" at suggestions they could leave in January.

Lucas: Criticism Spurs Me On

Liverpool's victory over Chelsea yesterday has been cast as the moment Fernando Torres recaptured his scoring prowess, but for one of the Spaniard's team-mates the fixture could also prove pivotal. Lucas Leiva, who so often has been at the centre of the Kop's frustrations during their team's recent malaise, was outstanding, playing with a diligence and determination that was more reminiscent of Javier Mascherano, the man he has been tasked with replacing. Such was the impact of the Brazilian, who was signed by Rafael Benítez in July 2007, that he won more than 50% of the vote in a man-of-the-match poll run on a LFC TV phone-in show held immediately after the Chelsea game. Numerous call and emails also poured into the programme in praise of the 23- year-old, all sharing the theme that, finally, here was a man that belonged in Liverpool red. "I'm getting older and I think I am getting better," said Lucas. "When you get more experience, you feel important and you want to do more. I'm really pleased with how I have played in the last few games and the team is winning. When that happens, everyone has a better performance. Asked if his performance yesterday was the best of his Liverpool career, the player added: "It is hard to judge. I have played 136 games for Liverpool and I'm sure I have had very good games before. Chelsea, I suppose, was one of the best but last year I remember against Manchester United that it went well for me. As a player I am trying to be consistent. "As a midfielder, you have to be consistent. I think it is also good to show that there is more to Brazilian players than just tricks. You need to show that you can do the dirty job for the team. That's what I'm trying to do. I play defensive and get forward when I can." Following the win over Chelsea, their fourth in succession, Liverpool face Wigan at the DW Stadium on Wednesday. The visitors lost the fixture 1-0 last season, a result which effectively saw their chances of qualifying for the Champions League disappear. "That felt like a heavy defeat," added Lucas. "It was clear that we didn't play well. But every season is different. We have three [league] victories in a row and are five games unbeaten. We go there with confidence. If we have the same shape and attitude, hopefully we will beat them." Liverpool, meanwhile, intend to offer Martin Kelly a new three- year contract. The 20-year-old defender has impressed since making his first-team debut last season and put in another strong performance at right-back yesterday. His current deal expires at the end of the season and the club are hopeful he will sign an extension.

Liverpool Owners Start Future Talks With Torres

Liverpool's American owners have started the process of ensuring the club hold on to Fernando Torres and Pepe Reina this summer, opening preliminary discussions which it is hoped will remove release clauses written into the two players' contracts. It is understood that Torres reached an informal understanding with Liverpool before the New England Sports Ventures (NESV) group headed by John W Henry took over that he would be permitted to leave at the end of this season if Liverpool had failed to qualify for the Champions League and a good offer came in. The same goes for Reina, with unconfirmed suggestions that a £20m release clause is in place. Henry and his chairman Tom Werner have already held initial talks with specific players and it is understood that NESV do not consider there to be any risk of Torres or Reina leaving in the January but they believe it is incumbent upon them to make key players feel that they want to stay at Anfield. Dirk Kuyt has suggested that Torres' return form owes much to the belief engendered by the players behind him performing. " We say in Holland 'one and one is two' which means when the team plays well, the striker plays well, " Kuyt said. "That's what happened with Fernando." Kuyt, who set up Torres' vital first goal, revealed that he feared he would be out of football for most of the season after being carried from the field during the Netherland's 4-1 win over Sweden last month with ankle ligament damage. "When I was in the dressing room in Amsterdam, they told me that I might need an operation. If that had been the case, I would have been out for months. It was hard at the time but it's great to be back. "

Kop Flop Poulsen To Exit Liverpool In Jan

Liverpool are ready to ditch Christian Poulsen just months after he signed for the club, UK can reveal. The Danish midfielder has failed to impress since his £4.5 million summer move from Juventus and could be on his way out of Anfield as soon as January. New director of football strategy Damien Comolli does not believe Poulsen has a future at Liverpool and wants to bring in a younger replacement with more potential. It is believed manager Roy Hodgson would back the sale of the former Sevilla star but only if an upgrade can be brought in as he is concerned by the small size of his squad. Poulsen, 30, has lost his place in the Reds starting line-up over the last few weeks after a series of substandard performances at the start of the season. He has seen his opportunities further restricted by the form of fellow central midfielders Lucas and Raul Meireles. Comolli, the former sporting director at Tottenham, believes Poulsen is a symptom of the old regime at Anfield in which older players with limited ability were signed instead of potential stars. Liverpool are yet to receive any interest in the Denmark international but expect to recoup most of their £4.5m outlay should he leave Anfield. Poulsen was signed as a replacement for Javier Mascherano in central midfield following the Argentina captain's £21m summer switch to Barcelona. The feeling at Anfield is that he was signed as a 'stop gap' when the club lacked the finances to invest heavily in a genuine replacement for Mascherano. Poulsen was signed by Hodgson during the summer along with Joe Cole, Paul Konchesky, Milan Jovanovic and Raul Meireles. But he has been the least impressive of the new recruits and drew criticism from Liverpool fans for poor defensive positioning and wayward passing during the club's dreadful start to the season. Poulsen's last Premier League start came over a month ago in the 2-1 home defeat to Blackpool.

Kuyt High On Torres Brace

Dirk Kuyt insists the whole Liverpool squad had confidence Fernando Torres would regain his top form after his starring role in the win over Chelsea. Torres showed signs of returning to his best with a superb first- half double to condemn league leaders Chelsea to a 2-0 defeat at Anfield. Kuyt believes Liverpool's improved form has helped bring the best out of Torres after a difficult start to the campaign. "We always had the confidence in Fernando, no doubt about that," Kuyt told the club's official website. "You can see the team playing better now every week and in every game, and Fernando is also getting better and better. "He finished his goals in a brilliant way. "We were really satisfied with the team performance. "I thought we played really well in the first half and then in the second we had to defend but everyone did a great job. "Pepe had another brilliant game. He kept another clean sheet and he did a brilliant job for us." Great day Kuyt marked his return to action following five games out with an assist for Torres' opener and the Dutchman was delighted to make a successful comeback against Chelsea. "For me that was a very good moment in the game," added Kuyt. "I have worked really hard to get back to fitness and I know Chelsea isn't the easiest game to come back in but it was a great day. "To see Fernando finish from my assist was a perfect moment. "It's also a big plus to our medical team who have worked hard to get me fit again so quickly. They have helped me a lot and I am very thankful to them."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chelsea Boss Hails Torres Quality

Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti was full of admiration for Liverpool striker Fernando Torres after the Spaniard struck twice to down the Blues on Sunday. Torres, who has been struggling with a series of nagging injuries this season, powered back to form with a classy brace against the league leaders and his performance was not lost on Ancelotti. "He scored two fantastic goals and he showed he was fit and has come back from not a good moment. He is a fantastic striker," said Ancelotti. As for his own star striker, Didier Drogba, Ancelotti confirmed the Ivory Coast international had been unwell. "Drogba had a fever last night and was not 100% fit so I decided to play him for just one half of the game, " he added.

Torres: Wishing To Do This In Every Game

Liverpool match-winner Fernando Torres hopes the side can produce more of the same after their 2-0 home win over league leaders Chelsea on Sunday. The Spaniard scored both Reds goals as both player and team marked their return to form in the best possible fashion. Torres knows he can keep getting better after coming back from a few nagging injuries and highlighted the importance of Liverpool consistently getting back on the winners list. "It's been difficult for me with injuries but I am training every day and every day feeling better and improving," he told Sky Sports. "I don't know if I can play my best soon - but I will as soon as possible. I know the expectation I have but I can handle that. "We have to keep winning. We have won three games in seven days but we have to forget that now and keep getting points. "

Agger Out For Many Weeks

The injury to Liverpool centre- half Daniel Agger is a long-term one according to manager Roy Hodgson. The 25-year old has not played since September 25 because of an ongoing calf problem and has been told to rest the injury before it gets any worse. Reds boss Hodgson admitted that he would have to be without the Denmark international for an extended spell. "Agger is long-term. They can't put a date on it,'' said Hodgson. "At the moment he can't train, he has just got to rest and wait for the next time he goes to see the specialist again. They are very anxious that bone doesn't form. It is a calcification issue and training would certainly accelerate the calcification. "Now they have to wait and hope the body breaks down the calcifying elements before he can even think about training again. So it could be very long term. "

Hodgson Delighted But Not Complacent After Chelsea Scalp

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson was delighted his side managed a strong 2-0 win over Chelsea at Anfield on Sunday. But the former Fulham manager was remaining realistic after Fernando Torres fired the Reds to their best win in a long while. "I pleased with the performance and I'm pleased Fernando will get the plaudits because he's taken his fair share of criticism, some of which has been grossly exaggerated and certainly not fully deserved," said the Reds boss. "When the team is not winning it is hard to defend those things but today people will say he is back to best and let's hope that is the case. "One always hopes that playing at this level in the Premier League you have that quality of front player. "Chelsea have had a lot of success with their front players and Liverpool have had a lot of success with Fernando. "It is nice now we are maybe getting back to that."

Torres Demolishes Chelsea

Red Revival continues as Fernando Torres ' fantastic double over Chelsea takes them into the Top 10 in the Barclays Premier League standings. The Spaniard put up an astonishing performance and once again proved why he is one of the top strikers in the world. Liverpool started the game with a great appetite and were first to winning the ball back if they were to loose it. The pressure paid off when Torres was played through with a diagonal ball and he didn 't disappoint as he coolly put the ball into the net. There was a determination and desire in the team which the fans were yet to see this season, and they didn 't have to wait any more. There was cohesiveness in the play, great understanding and good movement, especially from Torres. Lucas continued his rich vain of form and played emphatically in the midfield. He kept tabs on everything Chelsea midfield could muster. He completely isolated Florent Malouda and Jon Obi Mikel from the game. The Brazilian has seemingly established high standards. And just before half time, Torres scored with a devastating curler which left Peter Cech rooted to spot. The goal deserves to be a contender for goals of the season. Liverpool sat back a little in the second half and with Didier Drigba on for Chelsea at half time, Chelsea started to grow into the game. There were few scares for the home side as Chelsea came close on many occasions. But every time, they were denied by Pepe Reina. He somehow managed to keep out Drogba from point- blank range as the Ivory Coast striker was getting more and more involved. Late in the game, Nicolas Anelka 's shot which Reina managed to get a touch, hit the post and came back towards oncoming Drogba but only to be blocked off by Carragher and hence allowing Reina to get hold of the ball. In the dying seconds, Maxi Rodriguez was one-on-one with the goalkeeper who flapped at the Argentine 's leg and he went down inside the box, but the Referee didn 't see it as a penalty. With it, Liverpool clinched all three points against the league leaders and go up to 9th position in the league table. Reds now five points behind third placed Arsenal. Chelsea 's lead at the top now cut down to just 2 points. Carlo Ancelotti: "Liverpool can challenge for the top four." He was full of praise for Reina, Torres and Liverpool 's performance. "They deserved to win."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

New Liverpool Chairman Werner Ready To Turn Stuff Around

New Liverpool chairman Tom Werner says NESV are excited by the challenge of reviving the fallen giants. Reclaiming the mantle of England's most successful club is something that excites Werner and he has drawn comparisons between how the Red Sox have managed to close the gap between themselves and the New York Yankees. "I think that would be a good comparison," he said. "The Yankees continue to have the best revenues in baseball but we have been successful in playing them head-to-head and we expect to play Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal and other clubs head-to-head. "There will be trophies in that trophy case going forward. It's a pledge. I don't know when we will honour that pledge but we will honour it. "We're going to make steady progress. We're in a very competitive league but we won't settle for anything less than first." Some Liverpool fans have welcomed the arrival of Henry and Werner with scepticism after the ill-fated reign of their fellow countrymen Tom Hicks and George Gillett, but Werner assured them that there is nothing to worry about. "I understand their caution. John and I are men of our words," he said. "There's no acquisition debt on the club, there is a bit of stadium debt, that's understandable. Any profits we make going forward will be invested in the club. Our intention is to build the asset."

Henry: Reds Squad In Need Of Investment

NESV chief John W Henry accepts Liverpool's squad needs major investment. Former owners Tim Hicks and George Gillett ran Liverpool into spiralling debts and Henry insists the new American regime will not fall into the same trap. Henry, who also owns Major League Baseball team the Boston Red Sox, acknowledges investment is needed at Anfield. He said: "We really have to invest in the club. We need more depth. We need to build the squad. "We need stadium changes, whether we build a new ground in Stanley Park or we rebuild and refurbish Anfield. If you build a stadium there's debt involved in that. Even Arsenal had to borrow to build Emirates. You cannot sustain a club in the long term to buy players. "You're really limited to what your revenues are. That means we have to create revenues worldwide. We have to generate revenues and that's what we're really good at. "When we went to Boston we spent three years trying to figure out whether to build a new stadium or refurbish the new one. "We need to move faster. Hopefully within a year, but I don't want to set a hard-fast timeline when we'll make that decision. If you're going to build a new ground that takes time."

Roy: Chelsea Can Be Beaten

Roy Hodgson believes Liverpool will not have an inferiority complex when they face Chelsea. Photograph: John Powell/ Liverpool FC via Getty Images Roy Hodgson is adamant Liverpool will not suffer from an inferiority complex against Chelsea tomorrow and believes the reigning champions are as vulnerable as any Premier League team to a sudden loss of form. Chelsea are five points clear of their nearest challengers and will arrive at Anfield 13 points ahead of Hodgson's team. Their relentless form, particularly at Stamford Bridge where Carlo Ancelotti's side have yet to concede a point or even a goal in the league this season, has established them as firm favourites to retain the title. But Hodgson is dismissive of the theory Chelsea are far superior to their rivals. The Liverpool manager, who got to know Ancelotti during his time at Internazionale, when the Italian was working with the national team under Arrigo Sacchi, said: "At the moment they are there because they have made a good start, but I'm sure Ancelotti would also tell you – being an experienced manager who has worked in Italy – that you can have a spell which goes the other way. "It may not be long before they have a bad spell and you're asking what's gone wrong with Chelsea. If, after 38 games, you ask me what is it that made Chelsea champions, I might be more interested in answering the question, but not after 10." Thursday's Steven Gerrard- inspired recovery against Napoli in the Europa League was Liverpool's third consecutive win in all competitions and, while performances have fluctuated against Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and the Italian side, Hodgson believes self-belief has returned ahead of the champions' visit. "We were down in terms of results and we were down in terms of the enormous amount of criticism we were attracting – some of it very unfair, some of it downright lies," said the manager, whose January transfer targets may include the Saint- Etienne midfielder Dimitri Payet. "Of course that does affect people because we are only human beings and these things affect them. "But when you get a few wins, and people are saying nicer things about you, it lifts your confidence – but that's football. As a coach, you can't stop people writing what they write, and you can't stop people reading it and being affected by it." Merseyside police, meanwhile, have blamed tour companies and a minority of Liverpool supporters for the trouble that occurred during and after the Europa League tie with Napoli. An estimated 500 Napoli supporters acquired tickets for the home sections of Anfield on Thursday night, with many more turned away at the turnstiles. "They bought them from what had been seen as reputable tour companies," said chief superintendent Dave Lewis, who oversaw a match designated as "increased risk" following the attacks on Liverpool supporters in Naples a fortnight earlier. "Somebody, somewhere, was able to get tickets and put them on sale through these companies. We need to look further into that to see how that happened." Seven people were arrested on the night, three inside the ground and four outside, with the most serious disturbance coming when rival supporters clashed near Goodison Park after the game. Lewis added: "A minority of Liverpool supporters were intent on having an attack on the Napoli supporters. We had a large focus on Liverpool supporters who are known to us. They were seeking problems. Napoli fans had not come looking for trouble. But as trouble started they were not ones to back away from it."

Hodgson Clueless Of Comolli Arrival

Liverpool owner John W Henry has revealed manager Roy Hodgson was surprised to learn of Damien Comolli's appointment as director of football strategy. Comolli, who held a similar role at Tottenham from 2005 to 2008, is set to work closely with Hodgson as part of a management team. Henry yesterday explained the Reds boss will need to have his targets approved before moving in the transfer market, but he is convinced the former Fulham boss and Comolli can work well as a team. "I really didn't talk that much with Roy over the week or so before we made the decision to bring Damien in, " Henry said. "I think he may have been surprised when I brought it up a couple of days before we brought in Damien. But he was fully supportive. He knows Damien. "The model really requires people of certain personalities for it to work and Roy and Damien are two personalities who will mesh well together. " The sale of Liverpool concluded in October when Tom Werner and John Henry's New England Sports Ventures bought the club for £300m. Following the takeover, Liverpool are expected to bolster their squad during the January transfer window. The arrival of Frenchman Comolli raised questions over what influence he will have on signings. Hodgson has said he expects to be given the final say, although Henry's strategy will allow significant input into deals from the likes of Comolli. "It'll be a group decision," Henry added. "You build consensus. I think that's a very good model. "But they'll each be in charge of their own areas." With Martin Broughton departing as chairman and Christian Purslow resigning as managing director following the successful sale of the club, Liverpool are seeking a new chief executive. Henry has underlined his intention to improve the playing staff, but insists he will not burden the club with heavy debt to bring in new personnel. "We really have to invest in the club," Henry said. "We need more depth, we need to build the squad, we need stadium changes whether we build a new ground at Stanley Park or we rebuild, refurbish Anfield. "That's going to take investment. If you build a stadium there's debt involved in that. Even Arsenal had to borrow to build Emirates. But you cannot sustain a club in the long term by borrowing to buy players. " New UEFA rules demanding clubs are self-sufficient in future seasons means over-spending on players will not be an option. Henry said: "You're really limited to what your revenues are. That means we have to create revenues worldwide, generate revenues, and I think that's what we're really good at. "

Dalglish: Reds Back On Track

Kenny Dalglish can still draw a crowd. Thousands turned up to see the Scottish legend open a new Liverpool FC store in Belfast yesterday. The King has just about seen it all, but admitted that he was taken aback by the response to his appearance at the Castle Lane venue. Young and old swarmed around the place like bees to a honeypot, though Dalglish joked that the kids didn 't know who he was. "They were probably wishing Stevie G was here," he said. Like just about any other person with an affection for Liverpool, Dalglish glows when speaking about captain marvel Steven Gerrard, who donned his Superman cape again on Thursday night to steer the Reds away from trouble. Trailing 1-0 at home to Napoli in the Europa League, Gerrard came off the bench for the second-half, inspiring a remarkable transformation, scoring a hat-trick in a 3-1 success. Dalglish was suitably impressed. "He was fantastic. If he'd played for 90 minutes he may have got six !" said the former Liverpool boss. "He has done it so many times in the past, helped the club and turned things around when the side looked as though it was in a bit of trouble. " From 1977 to 1990, before solely focusing on managing the club, Dalglish performed plenty of heroics for the Reds himself. He was the brightest star in a team full of them, helping the Anfield outfit achieve unprecedented success. For decades he has been considered the best Liverpool player of all time. But with every stunning display delivered by Gerrard, that mantle is under threat, with many feeling the England midfielder deserves to be Anfield 's number one. Dalglish is not one for making comparisons. "Stevie G is Stevie G and he is entitled to his own identity just like everyone else, " he said. "If anyone can emulate what he has done for the football club in years to come, we 'll be very fortunate to have a player with that sort of ability. "You cannot take it for granted what he does for Liverpool — it really is fantastic. He's been phenomenal for the football club for many years and we have benefited from it. " Liverpool fans will look to Gerrard to lead the Reds to glory against Chelsea in the Premier League tomorrow. Getting anything against the champions and league leaders, however, will be extremely difficult, with most predicting a comfortable away win. Dalglish wouldn 't agree. "It's a big match — for both teams," says the Liverpool FC ambassador, who will be 60 next year. "Carlo Ancelotti has done a fantastic job and they are a great side, but I don 't think Chelsea would ever be disrespectful to Liverpool. Chelsea will know they are coming for a game. " Of course should Liverpool win for a fourth successive match, it would be considered a continued sign of progress under Roy Hodgson, following what was a pitiful start to the campaign which saw the Merseysiders slump into the relegation zone. During that period some in the Kop, disenchanted with Hodgson, were chanting for Dalglish to take over. The Scot prefers to speak about more positive points on and off the pitch in recent weeks. "Things are positive at the moment, we've won the last three games, we have new owners which has settled the club down and there 's more stability," says Dalglish. "Roy has got to know the players a bit better, the players have got to know Roy a bit better. He 's had time to settle in and the club is moving in the right direction. " With the LFC shop, the club has moved a little part of the empire to Belfast. Why? "We're very proud of the supporters we have here," came the reply. "It's getting a wee bit more difficult for them to get over and see matches now so if they can 't come to us we'll come to them. "The fantastic turnout has shown how popular Liverpool is in Northern Ireland. There are a great deal of people here who have deep feelings for the club. We really do appreciate the support we get from places like Northern Ireland." Liverpool's Ulster based fans would appreciate one of their own making it at Anfield. So would Dalglish, who states that his son Paul had a great time here when he played for Linfield a few years ago. "To be fair there's not too many players from Northern Ireland who have made it anywhere at a high level, so it 's not just Liverpool," says the ex-Celtic hero. "I don't think there are many Northern Ireland players in the Premier League. You have the likes of Jonny Evans (Manchester United) and Aaron Hughes (Fulham) who was with me at Newcastle, but it 's not for the want of trying that we don't have a Northern Ireland player at Liverpool. "If they are good enough, they will make it, there is no doubt about that. "We'd love to have someone from here come through, but the quality is more important than the nationality. "

Henry: Hodgson Staying At Liverpool

Liverpool co-owner John Henry says that Roy Hodgson 's job is not in jeopardy for now. Ever since New England Sports Ventures took over the Reds last month there has been speculation that the former Fulham and Inter Milan boss may be a casualty with the new regime. The Reds have made a poor start to the season under him, though a recent revival has seen them win their last three games at home and abroad ahead of Sunday's welcoming of Premier League champions Chelsea to Anfield. However, there are still plenty of dissenting voices as to whether Hodgson is the right man to take the club forward, and to whether he can lure the right sort of player to Anfield, given the lack of approval with some of his summer signings. "He certainly is at this point," Henry was quoted as saying by Sky Sports News when asked if Hogdson is the man he sees continuing in the Liverpool hotseat. "But I cannot make any assurances about the future. Just two months ago I didn't know that much about English football but we tend to stay with our managers. "Roy didn't focus this team so I think he has been unfairly criticised this year so I see it as my role at this point to support in every way I can, and make sure he has the resources to accomplish what he wants to accomplish. He's our manager, he's not going to leave - there is no change that is imminent." Henry also added that he did not consult with Hodgson about the appointment of Damien Comolli as the club's new director of football strategy on Wednesday, however he does expect the manager and the new man to work well alongside each other. "I really didn't talk that much with Roy over the week or so before we made the decision to bring Damien in," he added. "I think he may have been surprised when I brought it up a couple of days before we brought in Damien. But he was fully supportive. " The model really requires people of certain personalities for it to work and Roy and Damien are two personalities who will mesh well together."

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gerrard Hails Superb Team Effort

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard was eager to share out the credit to his team- mates despite his hat-trick heroics inspiring his team to victory in a 3-1 win over Napoli at Anfield. The Reds looked down and out on Wednesday in their Europa League tie, going into the second half a goal down and looking lost for ideas as their stuttering form this season continued. Roy Hodgson introduced the England vice-captain at half-time to try to lift them in the second period, and his plan worked to devastating effect as the 30-year- old scored a hat-trick in the final 15 minutes to pull them out of the mire once more. Liverpool now lead Group K by three points following the victory, and look set to secure a place in the next round of the tournament. But despite the skipper's unquestionably single-handed manner of pulling his team out of the doldrums, Gerrard was quick to give praise to the whole team. Fantastic "We went a goal down and the manager asked me to come on and see if I could help get the lads back in it," he said. "Every one of the lads in the second half was just fantastic." Gerrard restored parity with a challenge on Napoli keeper Morgan De Sanctis from close range to put his team ahead, displaying the constant desire the local boy has shown for his side over the past decade. "For the first goal when you're put in that position against a giant of a goalkeeper you've just got to go in and hope for the best," he said. "There was no class involved, just determination and desire and I don't think the keeper fancied it." "Everyone played their part tonight. I'm sure I'll get the headlines but it certainly wasn't just about me."

Kuyt Desperate To Play Vs Chelsea

Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt is pushing to face Chelsea on Sunday after three weeks on the sidelines. Dirk Kuyt was injured on international duty with the Netherlands. Kuyt has made a quicker than expected recovery from ankle ligament damage and will resume full training tomorrow. The 30-year-old was injured on international duty with Netherlands last month and it was initially feared he could be out for several weeks. Kuyt, working as a TV pundit at the Reds' Europa League clash against Napoli, told five: "I have worked really hard with the medical team. "I am quite happy with them because I have recovered quickly. I have trained really hard and am ready to start team training tomorrow.'' When asked about this weekend's Barclays Premier League clash against Chelsea at Anfield, he added: "It depends on how the next couple of days go. "Hopefully the team training will be okay and at the end of the day it will be up to the manager.'' Liverpool have endured a difficult start to the season, collecting just six points from their opening eight league games under new manager Roy Hodgson. That period was also overshadowed by an acrimonious takeover saga but, with that issue now resolved and the last two games won, Kuyt is optimistic. He said: "It is always difficult when things change but in football these days, these things happen. You just have to cope with it. "It is always easy, when things aren't going the way you want them to, to look for excuses but those things are behind us now. "It is very positive we have the new owners and it is very positive we have won the last two (league) games.'' Kuyt has also given his full backing to under-pressure boss Hodgson. "We could all see last year how good a job the manager did at Fulham,'' said Kuyt, whose car was damaged by a police horse on arrival at Anfield tonight. "We are working really hard to reach the same thing as he did at Fulham. I think it is going well, every week it is going better. I think the team is getting more used to each other. "We also have a few new players, so the future is bright.''

Hodgson Hails Gerrard The Legend After Napoli Win

Roy Hodgson has paid tribute to Steven Gerrard's abilities after his show-stopping performance in Liverpool's Europa League win over Napoli. A memorable hat trick helped the Reds move to within a point of qualification for the knock out stages of the competition after the captain was introduced at the start of the second half. And Hodgson was delighted with the impact of Gerrard, who replaced Milan Jovanovic after the interval, for motivating not only his team mates but also the Anfield faithful, who had new owner John W Henry within their ranks as he took in his first game. He said: "He was outstanding. I think in the first half we hadn't played that badly. We were a bit unlucky to be a goal down to an error, which was punished, but certainly in the second half, his entry was a catalyst. "It galvanised the crowd and the team, and I thought that the way he scored the first goal really epitomises the energy and the spirit the team showed in the second half. I'm just delighted that we have a reward for it, but certainly we owe a big debt of gratitude to him." "I haven't seen him play every game for Liverpool over the last two years, but I've been more than happy for everything he's done for the team during my time at the club and I thought tonight was a real leader's performance. "That goal that got us the equaliser wasn't a pretty goal. But that was a captain's goal. That was the goal of a guy who wanted to get his team back in the game and was determined, even at the risk of an injury, to get the ball into the net. "That is certainly appreciated by me and my staff, that's for sure, but it's also appreciated by the incredible crowd we had here tonight because they were pretty good up to that goal. "After it, the Italians might as well not have been here in terms of their support because we drowned them out."

Gerrard Super Hat-Trick Condemns Napoli

Since losing 2-0 to Everton on October 17, Liverpool have enjoyed a 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers and a 1-0 victory at Bolton in the Premier League. The nature of this terrific win will surely lift spirits ahead of the visit of English champions Chelsea on Sunday. A similar outcome in the penultimate Group K game of the Europa League at Steaua Bucharest on December 2 will clinch their place in the last 32 of the tournament. Liverpool lead the section on eight points from four games with Steaua second on five points after their 3-1 win over Utrecht in Romania. Napoli and Utrecht both have three points, but their hopes of progress are surely over. Watched by new owner John W Henry and his wife Linda Pizzuti, Roy Hodgson's side struggled to piece together anything of real note in the first period as the visiting side hustled and harried to some effect. Ezequiel Lavezzi enjoyed a sparkling first period, and gave Napoli the lead when he raced on to a lovely deft header by Edison Cavani to slip the ball beyond home goalkeeper Jose Reina. Apart from a long-range shot by Glen Johnson that was well held by visiting keeper Morgan De Sanctis, Napoli held out with as much ease as they had during the 0-0 draw with the English side in Naples a fortnight ago. Liverpool were transformed when manager Hodgson introduced Gerrard for the robust Milan Jovanovic at the break. Napoli fans held up pictures of former hero Diego Maradona, but it was Gerrard who produced a captain's performance more typical of the 1986 World Cup winner. Inspired by their skipper, Liverpool soon began to make inroads into the heart of the Serie A team, who defended deeper and deeper the longer the match progressed. De Sanctis pulled off a fine diving stop to save from David N'Gog on 51 minutes from Raul Meireles's pass before Meireles inexplicably shot wide from N'Gog's ball 14 minutes later. Gerrard narrowly flicked a free- kick wide of the Napoli goal on 70 minutes from distance, but the Italian side, who had only lost to AC Milan and Chievo this season, would soon be breached. Andrea Dossena was short with a backpass and Gerrard bravely won his 50-50 with De Sanctis to slide the ball into the net on 75 minutes. The Napoli keeper was booked for complaining as his side suddenly began to unravel. How Salvatore Aronica managed to avoid a red card for a brutal late tackle on N'Gog moments later was something of a miracle. UEFA should use video evidence to punish the Napoli player after a tackle that could have ended N'Gog's career, but justice was done after N'Gog hobbled off to be replaced by Lucas on 83 minutes. If Aronica was lucky to stay on the park, the blundering defender hung around long enough to concede a penalty on 87 minutes when he decided to take Johnson out of the play with a blatant foul in the box. Gerrard stepped up to slam the ball low into the left-hand corner of De Sanctis's net, but he wasn't finished there. Jay Spearing was alert to set him up to race into the box and chip the ball over the visiting goalkeeper for the hat-trick a minute later. It completed a merited win on a rousing night for the home fans inside Anfield.

Gerrard Starts From Bench As Reds Host Napoli

Glen Johnson returns to the Liverpool side for tonight's Europa League showdown with Napoli kickoff 8pm GMT. The full-back has shrugged off a muscle injury in time to make his first appearance since October 3 and is one of six changes to the side that won at Bolton. Christian Poulsen, Jay Spearing, Jonjo Shelvey, Milan Jovanovic and David Ngog also start. Liverpool: Reina, Johnson, Konchesky, Kyrgiakos, Carragher, Poulsen, Spearing, Meireles, Shelvey, Jovanovic, Ngog. Subs: Hansen, Gerrard, Lucas, Wilson, Kelly, Skrtel, Eccleston

Matchday: Reds Ready To Finish Italian Job

"This is Anfield" seems to be the favourite chant of fans as Reds host the serie-A side Napoli at Anfield tonight. A week after the dramatic and unfortunate stabbings of Liverpool fans by Napoli ultras, Liverpool will welcome Napoli fans with open arms and show them what a bigger heart Reds fans have. Reds sit on top of group K after a win and two successive stalemates in Europa League. But another draw or a loss may easily jeopardise their chances of qualifying for the knockout phase as Utrecht and Napoli are right at their tail. Roy seems to be the man having the least of worries as he maintained silence over the probable lineup.Torres and Gerrard are likely to be rested keeping in mind the Chelsea game on Sunday. But with Kuyt, Cole, Agger and Johnson still being injured it will be necessary to play a few big names tonight. Kyrgiakos faces a late fitness test to be marked as available for the clash. Ryan Babel and Brad Jones are also doubtful for the game as they are yet to fully recover from their injuries. Napoli will welcome Cavani back into the side after he was rested this weekend. Former Red Andrea Dossena will return to Anfield. Napoli are likely to field their best team out at Anfield tonight. Tough Italian job it'll be to be done for the Reds. Hodgson believes four points from next 3 games will be enough for reds to progress to knockout stage of the competition. He said, "I think if we can get four more points we 'll be pretty much secure a place in the next round as I can see the other games being tight." He further commented, "We got one of the tougher groups with Napoli, Steaua and Utrecht and on paper it looked even, but we 've done what we've needed to do. We'll have a strong team out on Thursday, we won't rest too many." It just means that Roy is once again likely to deploy his defensive strategy, something which is becoming highly unpopular among fans. The attacking display, that we were famous for under ex-manager Rafa Benitez is a thing of the past now. But Liverpool will still be looking to extend their winning streak to three games after scalping Blackburn and Bolton. With high hopes again in our hearts, we 'll look towards the Reds winning tonight. I again predict a close encounter and would tip Reds to defeat the Napolians in soccer as well as etiquette. The Red Legions Predictions: Liverpool 1 Napoli 0 Bring it on Napoli. But remember where you are tonight. "THIS IS ANFIELD" YNWA

Liverpool Look To Bring In Brazilian Love To Anfield

Liverpool are being linked with a January move for CSKA Moscow striker Vagner Love. The Brazilian international forward is thought to be out-of- favour at the Russian club, returning home for loan spells at Palmeiras and Flamengo in the past two seasons. Love joined CSKA in 2004, and has an impressive goalscoring record for the Koni. In six seasons, the striker has hit 97 goals in 185 appearances for the Russian Premier League side. Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is thought to be in the market for a striker, and the Reds have been linked with Carlton Cole, Peter Crouch, Fernando Llorente and Antonio Cassano to name just four player in the last week. The former Fulham boss has been promised money to spend by new owners NESV, with Liverpool thought to have a January transfer war chest in the region of £35 million. Hodgson has hinted at potentially 'five or six' additions at Anfield in the opening month of 2011, and a foil for Fernando Torres is thought to be a priority. Liverpool were first linked with Love in 2009, when the News of the World reported that Everton and Spurs were also interested in bringing the Brazilian international to the Premier League. The link has gone quiet over the past 18 months, but FootyLatest now place Liverpool back in the race to sign the mercurial player. Whilst the value of the player is up for debate, Liverpool will need to pay in the region of £10 million to bring the player to Merseyside.

Liverpool Target Cavani Ready For Audition

Napoli boss Walter Mazzarri plans to field Edinson Cavani tonight against Liverpool. Cavani has been linked with Liverpool and Manchester United this season. Mazzarri rested the Uruguay international striker at the weekend and didn't pay for doing so, as Napoli beat Brescia 1-0 in Serie A. Cavani is Napoli's top scorer this season with nine goals, but there is a fear that he might burn out, especially after having had so little time off following Uruguay's run in the World Cup.

Liverpool Contact Lille Over Edin Hazard

Manchester United face a major battle to land Lille winger Eden Hazard. France Football says after United's interest in the Belgian broke last week, no less than three other clubs have make concrete approaches to Lille. Olympique Lyon, Arsenal and Liverpool are also in contact with the French outfit about Hazard's situation. The Belgian is regarded among Europe's hottest young talents and Lille's board are resigned to now selling him in one of the next two transfer windows.

Hodgson: Team Needs To Impress New Owners

Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson believes his team now have a responsibility to back up the efforts of the new owners off the pitch with results on it. After a disappointing start to the campaign the club have put together back-to-back wins in the Barclays Premier League to lift them out of the relegation zone. That has happily coincided with the recent takeover at the club by New England Sports Ventures (NESV), the owners of the Boston Red Sox baseball franchise. NESV principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner have set about putting in place a structure behind the scenes which they think will revitalise fortunes at Anfield. Yesterday that involved appointing former Tottenham sporting director Damien Comolli as director of football strategy, with a brief to improve transfer policy and scouting. On Tuesday Hodgson met with Henry, who will be at tonight's game, in the latest of their series of meetings and has been heartened by what was discussed. But the Reds boss knows failure to improve further on the field will hamper development. 'The owners are very interesting people and every discussion you have with them is a pleasurable one because they have good questions and clear ideas and they listen to what you have to say,' he said. 'I have been more than impressed. Sometimes people buy clubs and you don't see or hear them but it has been quite the opposite. 'John and Tom have taken an enormous interest, spending a lot of time with the club and it is something which can only be to our benefit because we need people to look into this club. 'It is a great club and will be a great club in the future but it needs people like John and Tom to look into it and see where we have been going wrong and where they can step in and help us improve and that is what they are going to do. 'I regard that as positive and what I have to do as team manager is ensure we win as many games as possible so their improvements take place in a positive atmosphere rather than in a negative atmosphere. 'As far as they are concerned they understand that you don't wave magic wands in sport, if things need putting right it is going to take some time. 'But they are determined to get things right and the quicker the better but they are realistic that what needs to be done needs to be done. 'In the meantime we have to be making the best efforts we can to keep the club as high in the table as possible and the more we can do in that respect the easier their job will become.' Napoli coach Walter Mazzari believes his side have the ability to match Liverpool but insists it is games like tonight when they have to prove it. 'We need to be extremely focused, concentrate on our own game and also try to restrict the great players we will be up against,' he said. 'We played Liverpool two weeks ago and we didn't lose so we are equal. 'But it is one thing to say we are equipped to deal with Liverpool but another thing to actually do it.'

Hodgson Welcomes Comolli Appointment

Damien Comolli has come in as Liverpool's new director of football strategy, and this appointment is something that Roy Hodgson has welcomed. The former Tottenham sporting director had not long ago left St Etienne, in a similar role, and his arrival is one that Roy believes will enable him to concentrate entirely on first team matters, as he explained: 'I feel very good about it. It is something the owners were very keen to put in place. 'It is a strategy which I think makes sense, especially for our club at this moment in time because we are in a period of transition with new owners. 'They want a management structure in place which they can identify with, from American or European models and not necessarily an archetypal, if somewhat outdated, English model. 'The days of the dictator-type English manager have long since passed when everything went through one man and no one dared even buy a paper clip without that person's approval. 'There are people who dip into the roles which Damien will take over but I think it is important we have someone who will co- ordinate things in that area. 'He will certainly take a lot of the minor things that you have to deal with, allowing me to concentrate on the team management and he will help us bring the team forward. The Reds Boss doesn't feel that this undermines his authority, or influence, as the manager at all as it'll actually give him an increased ability to do what he should be doing, managing the team, as well as offering him greater help with who comes in, as he also explained: 'As far as I am concerned it does not have any effect on my role as manager; I shall be selecting the team and working with the team and making all the decisions which revolve around the team and the matches we play. 'There is no impact for me as such on my daily work, where he will help the club and help me is in the matter of player recruitment.' Roy also says that he's held further talks with John Henry this week and is more than happy with the plans that they have and the direction in which they are looking to take, with the arrival of Comolli a step in that right direction with that first vision shown. In my honest opinion Roy is right that football has changed a great deal however there are certain Boss' around that wouldn't want someone overlooking them and hand picking players that they want as this person, in our case Comolli, does in some ways almost become like the Boss as they can start deciding which players come in and then the pressure increases on the actually Boss, Roy, to use these and it might not fit into their way of thinking or planning. I'd expect that Roy will have a say and if he didn't want a certain player he'd not be pressured into agreeing.

Liverpool Desperate To Bring In Llorente

Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson is ready to break the bank to sign Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente. Llorente has emerged this season as Spain's prime striker ahead of Fernando Torres and Barcelona's David Villa. Manchester United and Manchester City have been linked with Llorente in recent weeks. However, Radio Cadena Ser says Hodgson, armed with cash from new club owners NESV, is willing to meet Llorente's €36 million buyout clause to bring the striker to Merseyside in January.

Comolli Eyeing Matuidi Reunion At Anfield

Liverpool are favourites for St Etienne captain Blaise Matuidi. The Daily Mail says Saint-Etienne are braced for bid from Liverpool for their captain Matuidi following Damien Comolli's appointment at Anfield. Comolli, who will shape the Reds' transfer policy after being appointed as director of football strategy, rates the tough-tackling France midfielder very highly. Along with Arsenal, Liverpool were already tracking the £7million-rated 23-year-old, but Comolli's arrival from Saint- Etienne gives them the upper hand in prising one of France's most promising prospects from Ligue 1. Comolli, who quit Saint-Etienne on Tuesday before his move to Liverpool was revealed, fought hard to keep Matuidi at the French club but admitted that the lure of huge club would be hard to resist. "He is our captain and a major player for us," he said only last month. "He's done well for us last season but we convinced him to stay. "But I'm not being naive, I know it will be difficult to keep him and know he will end up in England or one of the top clubs in Europe. Whoever comes for him, it will cost them a lot of money."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hodgson Planning Crouch Anfield Return

Liverpool are preparing an offer for former striker Peter Crouch as they plan to strengthen their squad with ' five or six' new players, according to the Daily Star. The former Fulham boss has admitted he is looking for many new players to add strength in depth to his squad and Crouch has emerged as a top target. Another £10 million striker Hodgson has been linked with recently is West Ham 's Carlton Cole, despite the fact he is currently second choice at Upton Park. Crouch, who spent three disappointing years at Anfield between 2005-2008, moved to current employers Tottenham for £9 million and has just eight league goals in 48 games – including the decisive goal last year that propelled the White Hart Lane club into the Champions League. And now Hodgson has earmarked Crouch as Fernando Torres ' new understudy as he bids to breathe new life back into Liverpool 's season after the Merseysiders started poorly. Hodgson has identified the lack of strike options at Anfield as a potential problem and will look to rectify that in January. "I'm prepared to accept that a number of players we're looking to sign do make five or six – but I don't wish to specify positions other than one is obviously a front player, " the Anfield gaffer said. "In January we should be really looking to solve one or two situations. We are desperately short of players. Front players. Having three front players at the club, and that 's if you include Ryan Babel, is nowhere near good enough. "If Fernando isn't playing one week, you have got to get someone in who has got the same level of quality. "

Ngog Ready For A New Striker

David Ngog admits the prospect of a new striker arriving in January has motivated him during an impressive start to 2010-11. The France U21 international is Liverpool's top scorer in all competitions this season with seven goals from 15 appearances. Another strike against Napoli on Thursday night would see him equal his best tally for the club and add to his reputation as a more than adequate stand-in for Fernando Torres. Even so, Roy Hodgson has made no secret of his eagerness to strengthen the club's attacking options in the upcoming transfer windows. Ngog - who won the Standard Chartered LFC Player of the Month for August - is ready for the challenge. "When you are a professional you know that it's normal that the coach will want to make the team stronger," the former Paris St Germain star told "I'm here now and ready to fight. Of course I want to play and be on the pitch every week, and of course I will fight for that. "It's good for me (to be top scorer) but for now the most important thing is to get the team in good shape and to try to win games. Then if I score goals, it's better of course. "I feel more confident after the few goals I've scored, and I feel more comfortable in the team this season. But I try to improve, always." Eagle-eyed fans will have noticed Ngog has grown in stature since last season following a conscious effort to toughen up to the rigours of English football. "I know English football is a strength game where you have to fight. If I can be stronger, that will improve my game," he said. "I'm spending time in the gym. I try to work on everything but, yes, I am working on this (trying to become stronger)." Liverpool are currently two points clear of Europa League Group K heading into Thursday's clash with Serie A side Napoli. Ngog thinks two wins from our remaining three fixtures may be required to guarantee progression to the knockout stages. "We have three games left, so maybe two wins would put us through to the next stage," said the 21-year-old. "Napoli are a really good team. They're fifth in Italy and they attack really well with their wingers and crosses. They are a really dangerous team."

Coentrao Cools Down Liverpool Rumours

Fabio Coentrao has played down talk of a January move away from Benfica. The Portugal wing-back is a target for Liverpool and AC Milan. But after starring against Lyon, he declared: "I have a contract until 2016 and I want to fulfill it."

Liverpool Target Defour Not Close To Any Deal With United

Standard Liege midfielder Steven Defour's agent has confirmed that a number of English clubs are keen on him, but denied that Manchester United were close to agreeing a deal. The Belgian international midfielder is one of the most sought-after young players in Europe. The 22-year-old is understood to be a long-term target of United, but they are thought to be one of a number of Premier League clubs looking to land him. "An imminent agreement with Manchester United? I can confirm that there are informal contacts with Italian, English, French, German and Spanish clubs, but nothing that suggests an imminent closure in a negotiation," Paul Stefani told Calciomercato. "Still there's not anything concrete so I cannot make names, I confirm that the player is followed by some big clubs. "A departure in January? It's too early to tell about it, this depends on many things. "

Liverpool Appoint New Strategy Director

New England Sports Ventures (NESV) and Liverpool FC are pleased to announce the appointment of Damien Comolli as Director of Football Strategy for Liverpool FC. NESV Principal Owner John Henry said today: "Damien has a proven track-record of identifying exciting young footballing talent and we are delighted that he has agreed to join Liverpool. Working closely with Roy Hodgson and the coaching staff, I know he will make a valuable contribution to strengthening the Club and the squad as we move forward. "Today's announcement is just the first step in creating a leadership group and structure designed to develop, enhance and implement our long-term philosophy of scouting, recruitment, player development and all of the other aspects necessary to build and sustain a club able to consistently compete at the highest level in European football. "We intend to be bold and innovative. We will not rest until we have restored Liverpool Football Club to the greatness Liverpool fans expect." Roy Hodgson added: "I am looking forward to working with Damien whom I have known for many years. We are engaged in an exciting project here and he will bring a lot to the table. We all want to see moves to strengthen the squad and support player development over the next few years. John Henry and I are totally united in delivering on that ambition." Damien Comolli said:"I am delighted to be joining Liverpool and look forward to working with John and Roy. I think we all realise there is a big job ahead, but we all share the vision that John has for rebuilding the club and bringing back the success that the supporters deserve."